submit or we'll throw those two to their deaths!
When he saw her for the first time he knew that it had to be. It was as if he was made for this moment. Every experience somehow led him to this exact spot. His entire life suddenly became a vector with no deviations. This is where he is meant to be. He knows this with all his heart. Now if only he can convince her, without stalking or coming off as some kind of freak.

Talking to the trashcans each Tuesday morning became somewhat of a ritual for Shirley, the town bag lady. Wednesday through Monday just dragged on. Time almost stood still for her. But on Tuesday mornings the good people of Townsville bring out their Rubbermaids and shower Shirley with good company.

Sitting on the hood of the SUV he can feel the warmth of the engine creeping through his many layers of clothing. He really likes the contrast of the warm hood and the frigid air. Many winter nights after leaving her place he would drive out into the forest and just sit on the hood. He wouldn’t think about too much. Instead he would just concentrate on the temperature differential between his ass and his head.

Paper towel somehow never ceased to make him smile. Whenever wiping up his mess he would remember the Bounty commercial where they would stretch the roll of Bounty between the two towers of the World Trade Center. Then the spokesperson would walk out into the middle of the roll, and announce that Bounty is so strong it can hold him up thousands of feet above the sidewalks of New York. And even if it didn’t, Bounty would be the best choice for cleaning up the mess.

“What’s with the rubber mallet?” she asked the intruder. “All the better to bruise you with, deary,” he answered in a growling voice. “This doesn’t look good for me,” she thought audibly. As the intruder began to raise the mallet above his head, a single thought made its way into his thick skull. “This woman could be someone’s daughter.”  The arc of the mallet stopped midway between apogee and forehead. Her eyes were closed so she couldn’t see the abrupt halt to the attack. He dropped the mallet and ran from her room as fast as he could. She then picked up the mallet and beat herself black and blue.

He was walking down the street when he came upon a dead bird lying in the middle of the sidewalk. Using his amazing powers of imagination he reanimated the bird. The bird now had a top hat and cane. It was dancing all over the sidewalk. The specks of blood became the footprints on the dance floor. Samba, mambo, waltz, jitterbug, this bird could move. He was so impressed with the bird’s hoofing that he went up to ask for lessons. He walked up to the bird ready to pop the question. When the bird turned around it was no longer a bird but the spitting image of his elderly mother. “Should I still ask for dance lessons?” he thought out loud. The dead bird/mother of his imagination was able to read his mind. She answered in a screeching voice, “You are too uncoordinated to dance, but you know that already.”  Embarrassed, he put his imagination away and sat there looking at his dead mother lying on the sidewalk in front of him.

Disease and famine had struck the old neighborhood. The UN was planning a rescue mission. Oxfam was mobilizing. Churches and synagogues from all the other neighborhoods started donating what they could spare. Old man Michelin was taking it very hard. It was a matter of pride for him that his neighborhood had never accepted charity. But through his emphasemic cough he gladly accepted the charity from the next neighborhood north. He limped back home and slowly began to unwrap the box of supplies. As he was pulling the transparent tape from the top flap of the box his last coughing fit began in earnest. He had never felt anything so painful in all his life. He had to go sit on the sofa. On his way to the living room, the phone began to ring. He detoured to the side table and picked up the phone. It was his daughter calling from Florida. She had just heard on the news about the disease and famine. Through his coughs he told her not to worry and to go on with her life in the sunny south. 

“What am I doing here?” he shouted with the exact tone of voice that the director had been trying to teach him for the previous three weeks of rehearsals. But this was no rehearsal; in fact he wasn’t acting. He truly wanted to know what he was doing there.

The breeze felt mighty fine on his bare arm. Walking alone on the beach at night became his refuge. He needed this time away from them. Sometimes he hated them so much he thought he would do something rash. That is when he jumps in the car and drives all the way to the shore. He unlaces his high top sneakers, pulls off his tube socks, and leaves the parking lot for the cold sand. He knows the sand is made up of millions of tiny particles, but on some nights he could swear that his feet feel the sand as one coherent whole. That the tiny particles don’t exist at all and in fact everything at the beach is one, including himself. He feels whole at the beach. He feels part of something at the beach. He becomes the beach and the beach becomes him. Too bad this unity can’t last very long. When the wind gets too cold, the beach begins to break up into its component parts again. The water separates from the sand. And most importantly he becomes just another guy out walking by himself, hoping someone will notice him. He begins to think that the previous paragraphs are tiny particles of shells and rock, old syringes, driftwood, fish bones, seaweed, trash. But he doesn’t like that chain of thought so he shuts down the computer and turns on VH-1 to watch the latest episode of Where Are They Now.

[Forever after at


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